3 important findings from a landmark longevity study

For years, the 1913 Men study, a longitudinal study of health and illness in a cohort of men born in Sweden in 1913, has been providing aging researchers with valuable data on how various lifestyle factors can affect longevity and wellness. The study began in 1963 by randomly selecting one-third of the 50-year-old men currently living in Gothenburg, Sweden, to get regular health check-ups for the remainder of their lives, the results of which were recorded by the researchers.

Now, the study has followed all of its participants to either death or becoming centenarians. Only 10 of the original cohort of 855 men, or 1.2 percent, made it to 100 years old in 2013. Along the way, the researchers collected numerous important observations about health and longevity. These include:

  • Cardiovascular and infectious disease are major killers. Of the study participants who survived past 80 years old, a full 42 percent eventually died of cardiovascular disease. This was more than twice the number who died of infectious disease, which was the next biggest cause of death at 20 percent. Stroke and cancer came in third at 8 percent each.
  • It matters how long your mother lives, but not your father. Longevity seems to be passed down on the mother's side, according to researcher Lars Wilhelmsen. "Our findings that there is a correlation with maternal but not paternal longevity are fully consistent with previous studies," he said in a statement.
  • No smokers made it to 100. If you smoke, you probably already know you're shortening your life, but if you want to make it to 100 years old, quitting seems to be absolutely necessary.

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